Sunday, December 29, 2019

Ads Don’t Work | Lefsetz Letter

“Bloomberg Spends Millions on Anti-Trump Attack Ads”

Trump won because he was a known quantity, in the public eye for decades and then on network TV for years, starting in 2004, when network TV still counted, when Netflix was still sending DVDs by mail and Tony Soprano had no idea who the “Stranger Things” kids were.

Welcome to 2020, where, as the Talking Heads once so dramatically sang, it’s the “same as it ever was.” Boomers and people with money think they know what is going on, but they do not, Mr. Jones. As for Mr. Byrne, all of his new material fell flat, despite hosannas in the “New York Times” and other elite outlets, and then he reinvented his act, making it about visuals more than music, took it to Broadway and then re-entered the national consciousness.

Only boomers turn on the TV at 6 and flip channels for five hours. Millennials don’t watch television that way, never mind Gen-Z, assuming they have a cable account to begin with. Many don’t even bother with internet skinny bundles from YouTube or Sling…they don’t want to see that crap. They need Netflix, Amazon, and not much more. But somehow, advertising on TV is gonna push the needle significantly?

Kind of like terrestrial radio. If you’re tuning in, you’re the last Luddite on earth. One of the true advantages of SiriusXM is the lack of commercials on music channels. You can flip between dozens and never hear a spot.

And look at terrestrial radio playlists… At best, they’re a reflection of what happened on streaming services, oftentimes months earlier. Sure, terrestrial radio has an audience, albeit shrinking, but if you think that active music fans get their info there, you’re probably afraid to enter your credit card number on a website, or you’re one of the alta kachers insisting that streaming has killed the music business and has to go. Ha!

Reaching the public is nearly impossible. Everybody hates ads. Which is why Netflix and SiriusXM don’t have them. You have to appeal to the new generations, and the dirty little secret is older generations hate ads too. Come on, it happens to me all the time, someone in their sixties or older says…DID YOU SEE THAT COMMERCIAL?, or DO YOU KNOW THAT COMMERCIAL? I literally have no idea what they’re talking about, nor do I care. As for the internet…I USE AN AD-BLOCKER! As for those sites that refuse to let me see unless I put them on the whitelist…I don’t bother, I just use another browser if I really care, and I rarely do this, because I don’t.

As for social media ads to begin with… Anybody will tell you, if they have any effect at all, they must be within the content, i.e. influencers on YouTube and Instagram, but the truth is the audience knows those people are whored out to the man, doing it for the money, and to a great degree their performances are laughable. But give the clothing and commodity businesses credit, at least they’re trying. And don’t bring up the success of Kylie Jenner…she was on TV for YEARS before she became a makeup billionaire.

So most people have no idea who Michael Bloomberg is.

But they don’t know about a lot of people.

Which is why Interscope spent years grooming Billie Eilish, seeding her music online, before they broke it wide to the general public, before they put on the push. If you want something to break overnight, you’ve got to kill someone, and by the afternoon no one will care. Come on, where did the last school shooting happen?

It’s all about hearts and minds. And despite America’s overwhelming cash and firepower, it could not beat the North Vietnamese. So what makes Bloomberg think he can carpet-bomb the public and anybody will pay attention, especially in a world where we’re overwhelmed with messages to the point if we even see yours, we ignore it.

As for Facebook ads influencing the public… Trump won in 2016, the marketplace has changed since then. People are suspicious of anything that does not agree with their ethos. And the only people they trust are their brethren, friends.

Yup, if Bloomberg wants to make inroads, he should read Malcolm Gladwell’s “Tipping Point” instead of listening to anybody on Madison Avenue, never mind the guy he hired who used to work at Facebook. How do you entrance the early adopters, the people who will spread the word? The only people I know who are talking about Bloomberg are rich and afraid of losing under a Warren or Sanders administration, or live in New York and probably have less than a great opinion of him. As for voters at large…they don’t even know the TV channel or the magazine, never mind the terminal on Wall Street.

Everything takes a long time to happen these days. And if you push it, it evaporates sooner. You’ve got to start early, you’ve got to be in it for the long haul. And those inside the Beltway may be susceptible to billionaires, but not those on the street. Look at Spotify…hip-hop lives there, it’s where major records are broken… Rock hasn’t even figured out how to have a presence on the streaming service, country just a bit, but somehow Bloomberg has the special sauce to penetrate the populace at large? Come on, take a ton of ads on Spotify itself for your rock track, nothing will happen, it won’t be played in prodigious amounts, but you may become a laughingstock for trying to game the system, killing your career overnight. (And, of course, there are only ads on the free service, but try the same thing with banners on Premium.)

You’ve got to start with people, you’ve got to penetrate their networks.

Bloomberg should try and penetrate college campuses, yes, students vote, you only have to be 18, and this election will be decided on their turnout.

You want to reach women? Penetrate their book groups.

Men? Play fantasy football.

You’ve got to start really grass roots, and be committed, that’s what’s hobbling Bloomberg, the fact that he entered late. This is not Robert Kennedy in 1968.

And companies continue to advertise because they don’t know what else to do.

As for attacking Trump himself… Trump won by breaking with conventional wisdom… You know, you can’t attack a woman, you can’t swear, you’ve got to tell the truth… But somehow, the DNC and big media are afraid of attacking Trump, fearful there will be a backlash, when Trump is attacking everybody not on his team constantly!

Hell, the media missed the rise of Trump, the ascendance of white nationalism, it couldn’t even see the negative consequences of globalism…but somehow, when it comes to running for President, they know?



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